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Tail and Leg Bandages

It is sometimes necessary to use bandages on a horse at times other than when injury occurs. A tail bandage is used to keep the tail clean and prevent the hairs from being rubbed off or caught up on something, especially during shipping. It can also be used after grooming, to train the hairs to lie flat. Leg bandages are intended to provide support, protection from injury, or warmth. They should never be used without some padding between the leg and the bandage, which helps to keep the pressure even. The method of fastening bandages varies according to the make of the actual bandage; tapes and Velcro fastenings are common. Wash all of your bandages thoroughly and properly to keep them clean; make sure you rinse them well. They must be completely dry before they can be used again.

Tail bandages are fairly thin and are made of crepe or synthetic material. Exercise bandages are slightly elastic, to enable them to mold to the shape of the legs. Stable bandages are thick, felt-like leg bandages designed to provide warmth rather than fit. Quilting can become compacted and lose its padding ability with repeated use, but it is easier to shape around the leg than sheet cotton and is more durable. Quilting can be washed to extend its life, although sheet cotton cannot be washed.

Putting on a Tail Bandage

1) Start bandaging with the straight end forming a point across the base of the tail. Wrap the bandage under and around the tail, keeping it as close to the base as possible.

2) Fold the point over the first circle of bandage and cover it with the second layer. Be sure that the bandage is secure at the top, because this will ensure that the finished bandage stays secured.

3) Work your way down the tail, overlapping every layer half or two-thirds of the width of the previous layer. Keep the tension firm and even, but make sure that the bandage is not wrapped too tightly or it will begin to restrict circulation.

4) Bandage the tail as far down as the tail bones extend; this will usually be as far as the groin area at the top of the legs. Then, bandage back up the tail.

5) The bandage may have two tapes at the end. Separate them, keeping the tension on the one pointing away from the bandage or the last layers will come loose.

6) Cross the tapes behind the tail, keeping them flat. Tie them with a bow at the front, being careful to tie them at the same tension as the bandage.

7) Fold a layer of bandage down over the loops and loose ends of the tapes to give a neat finish. This will help to stop the tapes from coming undone.

8) Lift the bandaged tail and place an arm underneath it as a fulcrum. Gently bend the tail over the arm; this will help it to sit flush against the horse’s hindquarters rather than having it stick out behind them.

Never leave a tail bandage on for more than a few hours, because it can stop the circulation to the tail. When you remove it, untie the tapes, then grasp the sides of the bandage at the top and pull downward sharply. The tail narrows toward the tip, so the bandage will come off quite easily.

Using Leg Bandages

Stable bandages can be used as support, or to protect veterinary dressings from dirt or form being disturbed by the horse. They can also be used as a form of protection and an alternative to shipping boots. Exercise bandages can be used to protect the legs, especially the tendons, from knocks during exercise. When applying leg bandages, be aware of how tight you are wrapping them. If they are too tight, they can damage the tendons; if they are too loose, they will fall off and get trapped around the horse’s feet.

Always bandage pairs of legs, even if only one is injured, to prevent the other leg from strain. For shipping, make sure that each bandage extends down over the coronet band, or use bell boots in conjunction. Exercise bandages should start just below the knee or hock, and extend to just above the fetlock joint. These should be put on by someone with considerable experience, and should be removed immediately after use.

Putting on a Stable Bandage

1) Wrap padding around the leg, keeping it flat. Overlap it so that the outer edge goes counterclockwise on the left legs and clockwise on the right legs. The vertical edges must avoid the tendons.

2) Start at the top. Lay the end of the bandage to form a point at the top, and then wrap it around twice, from front to back, in the same direction as the padding.

3) Fold the point down over the turns of bandage, and cover it with another layer to anchor it. Do not pull too hard, or the bandage will move around the leg.

4) Continue bandaging down the leg, keeping a firm, constant pressure. Each layer should overlap about two-thirds of the one above. Give special consideration to the overlaps over the fetlock joint. Don’t let creases form in the bandage or the padding underneath.

5) Work back up the leg. Form a V-shape at the front of the leg between the last layer of bandage going down and the first layer going up. This stops the bandage from moving as the horse moves. Bring the bandage up at an angle as you start to work back up the leg.

6) Your aim should be to finish the bandage just below the starting point. The fastening may be a Velcro strap or tapes to tie. Try to fasten it on the outside of the leg, so that it does not rub against the other leg.

Don’t attempt to roll the bandage up as you remove it. You cannot expect the horse to stand still patiently while you undo them. Undo the fastening, and then pass the bandage from hand to hand as you unwind it. Try not to let the padding fall on the floor. You must roll up a bandage so that it is the right way around when you need to use it. Start at the end that has the strap or tapes, and then fold it over, rolling the bandage firmly with the fastening on the inside. Be sure to align the edges neatly.

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